Yay me. That’s right, another post boating about the progress I’ve been making at sustaining another run at 1,000 words per day. But this is only partly about that. This is a post about a trick that’s been helping me get to that goal each day. Incentives.
Writing by itself is a fulfilling task. One might argue that if being a writer means so much to the writer, why doesn’t the writer write? Easier said than done. And I do not care to expound on those things right now, rather to acknowledge that writers often need help to motivate them to perform the task.
Recently I received a Nintendo Switch Lite as a gift and have been enjoying playing several of the games me and my family had for the Switch we already owned. This one is meant to be mine and to travel with me when I take long trips for my day-job as a technical support engineer with a chemical company.
Needless to say, or actually I do need to say it because it is part of the point of this post. Anyway, I am not allowed to play it until I achieve 500 words in fiction. Then I get some time on it as a reward. After I put it down, I am not allowed to pick it up until the next 500 words. Mind you, I mean 500+ words because even if I get 1,500 words before I pick up the Switch, then that means if I intend to pick it up again after putting it down, then I need another 500 or more.
The incentive has helped to motivate me to write, especially when I am really wanting to play games instead — or as they say: shirking my responsibilities.
This falls a little under the idea of sacrificing for something more important. Delaying gratification can also fit here. The idea that I am holding back on something that I really want in order to do something I need to do. It helps spark the desire to go write.
While it helps to push to write, it does not necessarily help with what to write. Wanting to be honest and forgo gaming to put out a few hundred words though forces me to sit down and overcome that block too. As I mentioned in my post on Writer’s Block, writing helps.
The other surprising benefit to this is that there is less guilt when I do spend my time gaming. Were I not to put this stipulation in, that would not be the case. I’d look back at that time, though used in the same way, and believe I had wasted my time. I could have been writing. With this incentive in place, the answer is there. I did write. The playing the game is the reward for it.
I’ve heard other writers do the same thing. Recently on one of the podcasts I listen to (6-Figure Authors), the writer in question would do whatever she needed to do to reward herself for hitting goals she had. Everything from gold star stickers to gifts to anything that worked for her. And she encouraged it. It was that podcast that reminded me that it was something I used to do as well, when I was stronger in my writing habits than I’d been these last two years. I used to be better at rewarding myself for small achievements.
It works. Gaming as my reward works. And when it doesn’t, maybe I’ll change it to having a beer or something (I am a craft beer snob and a big fan of IPA’s, so to me this one is a good one). Or I’ll find another thing to do to give myself the drive to want to do the writing even when I don’t feel like it.
To counter any argument that we all go to work and don’t need an incentive to do so, I would argue that the check each week or at whatever frequency is incentive too. My writing has yet to achieve those levels, but even when it does, it wouldn’t hurt to give the need to write a little boost to help it move more into that want to write category.
We all need help to motivate us to do something we want or need to do, but have little motivation to do. Maybe it’s exercising or cleaning or a goal. Create an incentive. Choose a thing that you normally get and delay getting that thing until the task is complete. If that isn’t enough, choose something extra, something that normally wouldn’t be gotten (bearing in mind that it should not negate the efforts of the thing being rewarded, such as a bowl of ice cream if you exercised — that’s one of the only rules I’d put in place. Otherwise, try it out; it helps.